Who said the Ranfurly Shield doesn’t matter?
Whoever did obviously wasn’t watching Saturday’s thriller from Christchurch where Taranaki memorably snatched the log off perennial holders Canterbury.
Silly old Shield that clearly still means so much to those that still do take the time to care.
And isn’t that the beauty of a trophy like this? In a sport where money nowadays is behind most decisions made, this old thing is a throwback to an era when the game was only ever about the contest not the cost test.
Saturday afternoon proved that tradition does count and glorious that if still does. Diluted, sure. Not nearly as important as often as it once was, sure. And probably, in fact definitely, very much a generational thing.
I can understand why anyone who’s become a rugby fan in the post professional era wouldn’t care anywhere near as much as those of us who grew up in a time of Main Street parades and promotional school visits.
The Shield has an almost mythic quality for many of us oldies, especially being from Wellington, because we hardly ever won it. I was there in 1982 when Wayne Smith and his bloody Cantabs stole it off us. It only took 25 years and endless heart-breaking losses and/or failures before we eventually won it back.
When I was growing up the log of wood was considered such a prize that to win it, defend it, and hold it for the summer was as much of an achievement as winning the NPC itself.
Oh, how times have changed. Which is why Saturday’s reminder of the aura it holds was so special & brilliant to watch.
And now for the next few weeks, while we await the recommencement of international rugby, the Shield will provide a welcome distraction amongst the regular NPC fixtures. Taranaki defending it this weekend against Otago at Inglewood’s club ground is as grassroots as the game gets. If the lockdown levels are lowered it’d be well worth a roadie.
And no, I’m not hankering for the so-called good old days. I’m just delighting in the circumstances that see this relic reclaim some relevance even if it is just temporary or only because we’re all stuck here with Covid. Sport is there to be celebrated and that’s all I’m doing.
So to anyone who said it doesn’t matter anymore go back and watch the Taranaki players celebrations when the final whistle blew. If that doesn’t convince you of the Ranfurly Shield’s magic then nothing else ever will.